Monday, August 24, 2020

"Australians have $16B plan to beam solar energy onto Asia's power grids"

"Beam" is definitely not the right word.
From the Guam Daily Post:

Could Australia, one of the world's biggest exporters of coal and natural gas, become a solar superpower?
The island continent, distant from Asia's megacities, plans to capture the plentiful Outback sun, store it in giant batteries until nightfall and transmit it to Singapore along a watermelon-width cable traversing 2,800 miles of sea floor, including a deep trench.
The Australia-ASEAN Power Link, which is part-owned by two Australian billionaires and was endorsed last month by the Australian government, may be the most ambitious renewable energy project underway anywhere. And it could mark a new chapter in the history of energy: the intercontinental movement of green power.

The project's backers believe Australia eventually can supply cheap solar power to a pan-Asian electricity grid, lifting living standards for millions of people and reducing the region's dependence on coal and natural gas, which are big contributors to global warming.

"The cool new thing is to seriously talk about moving renewable energy around long-term as the carbon-free alternative to the existing fossil fuel trade," said Peter Cowling, chief executive of Vestas Australia, a wind farm builder. "This is the most plausible solution I have seen to helping Asia decarbonize its energy supply."

Scheduled to start operating in 2027 at a cost of about $16 billion, the project would combine the world's largest solar farm, the largest battery and longest submarine electricity cable. It would produce three gigawatts of power, the equivalent of 9 million rooftop solar panels.
The specifications are so complicated that it will be designed by computers using artificial intelligence, according to David Griffin, a solar and wind farm builder who said he came up with the idea while driving through Australia's hot, dry interior.

"Millions of calculations are needed," he said. "No one has combined those technologies into a single project of this nature before. It is beyond a human's ability to design it."

Driven by physics, geopolitics
The project, owned by a company called Sun Cable, is driven by geopolitics as much as physics. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has discussed a regional power grid for 15 years – Europeans have shared electricity for five decades – but the talks have been frustrated by political differences and infrastructure gaps.

With no natural sources of energy, cloudy skies 80% of the time and two much bigger neighbors – Malaysia and Indonesia – long envious of its wealth and social stability, Singapore is looking for reliable, cheap energy that does not contribute to global warming.

Safe, peaceful and sunny Australia could be the solution. Separating the two countries, though, are thousands of miles of ocean, the Indonesian archipelago and the 10,000-foot-deep Sunda Trench.
The longest submarine power cable under construction is the 435-mile Norway-to-Britain North Sea Link, which is scheduled to start operating next year, according to Griffin....

Yara is talking about using the Australian solar to produce either hydrogen or the hydrogen compound ammonia. Yara has a bit of a soft spot in it's corporate heart for nitrogen.
August 2018
This Could Be A Big Deal: Norway's Yara and the Australian Nitrogen Economy

Earlier on Sun Cable:
July 8 
"Could a US$14 billion Australian solar farm provide a fifth of Singapore’s energy?"
May 22
BP Smacks Exxon Upside Head With New Green Hydrogen Scheme (can SunCable to Singapore be far behind?) 
A couple of the approaches being talked about, make hydrogen in Australia and send it to Singapore or use submarine electrical cable to carry (solar) electricity to Singapore.*